“You are a disgusting little boy who will grow up to be a terrible man!” screeched Sister Vindictive. Folks, I was thirteen and was, according to Sister V, the worst Catholic since Genghis Khan.
Sister V was my Grade 9 teacher and nothing like the gentle, smiling, singing nuns from the Sound of Music or Sister Act. I can’t remember a single thing she taught me, but can instantly recall every insult she hurled in my direction over the course of that painful year.
“You’re stupid. You’re wrong. You’re wicked. You’re lazy. You’re… etc., etc.”
As a result, for the next thirty years, whenever I felt slightly proud of any achievement, Sister V’s voice would pop up from the dark recesses of my mind, “You’re a fake, and a disgrace, and will soon be exposed as the nasty liar you really are!”
Years later, at a high school reunion, I stumbled across a tribe of fellow graduates from the Sister V School of Low Self-Worth, and was delighted to discover she hadn’t singled me out for special treatment after all! Apparently, Sister V was an equal opportunity abuser who left a trail of shattered self-esteem wherever she went.
Now, if a single year under Sister V’s care had left us feeling slightly insecure, imagine how horrendous it must be for kids growing up with a parent who uses the Sister V De-Motivational Method (Pat. pend)?!
Still, Sister V made me the man I am today; someone who prefers to encourage, rather than criticise. Someone far from perfect (not exactly an earth shattering revelation) but trying hard every day to be a slightly better person.
And finally, someone who ticks ‘Other’ in the Religion box on Census night, then scrawls ‘Suburban Philosopher’ in the space below.
Sister V would be disgusted.